SPECIAL: The 25 Best Tom Hanks Movies

20. THAT THING YOU DO! (1996)

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Hank’s debut as a screenwriter and director was a loving look at the boy bands of the ‘60s, with room for Hanks onscreen as the manager of fictional pop group The Wonders. And just try getting the Oscar-nominated titular track out of your head.


19. CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007)

Image: Universal Pictures

Image: Universal Pictures

With screenwriter Aaron Sorkin bringing his trademark wit and flair for dialogue to the writing — not to mention Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best performance of apoplectic bluster — Hanks was surrounded with talent in director Mike Nichols’ final film.


18. BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015)

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The fourth film collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg wasn’t their outright best — see numbers 8 and 4 on the list — but Bridge of Spies was a welcome return to the drama they tackle so well together, after the playful whimsy of The Terminal. Mark Rylance is every bit Hanks’ equal as a sympathetic Soviet spy.


17. CAST AWAY (2000)

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

The years since Y2K have reduced Robert Zemeckis’ tale of the strength of the human spirit down to memes about Wilson the volleyball, but Cast Away remains a powerful movie, with the credit hanging squarely on Hanks and his solo acting over the bulk of the film.


16. TURNER AND HOOCH (1989)

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

Not to be confused with the pedestrian Jim Belushi comedy K-9 that came a year later, Turner and Hooch was Hanks’ final comedy of the ‘80s and served as a funny and poignantly emotional coda for the first decade of his film work.


15. BIG (1988)

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

To this day, many kids’ first exposure to live-action Tom Hanks continues to be Big. As the embodiment of childhood wish fulfillment, Hanks’ knack for physical comedy was never as strong as it was with him portraying a 12-year-old in a grown-up’s body.


14. ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)

Image: DreamWorks Distribution

Image: DreamWorks Distribution

Director Sam Mendes’ follow-up to the Oscar-winning American Beauty was criticized at the time for being overlong and pretentious, but it’s aged very well in years since. Pacing problems persist, yet the beauty of Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography covers almost all of the movie’s sins.


13. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993)

Image: TriStar Pictures

Image: TriStar Pictures

Romantic comedies are seldom quality pictures, Sleepless in Seattle is so charmingly optimistic and so unabashedly romantic, it transcends many of the clichés it trades in so delicately, the same way Moonstruck and When Harry Met Sally did. (Sadly, the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan reunion, 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, did not.)


12. PHILADELPHIA (1993)

Image: TriStar Pictures

Image: TriStar Pictures

Of all of Hanks’ movies, Philadelphia may have aged the worst. What was brave and bold in its tackling of AIDS and gay Americans 23 years ago now feels steeped in the subtle homophobia and accepted intolerances that were still commonplace in the ‘90s. Hanks’ work as the dying Andrew Becket, though, remains one of his greatest performances, in a movie that will still affect you on an emotional level by the end.


11. A LEAGUE OF
THEIR OWN (1992)

Image: Columbia Pictures

Image: Columbia Pictures

When people talk about great baseball comedies, A League of Their Own often tends to get forgotten amidst discussion of Major League, Bull Durham, and The Bad News Bears. But Penny Marshall’s comedy, set in the world of 1940s’ All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and showcasing Hanks as an AAGPBL team’s coach befuddled at the sight of a baseball player crying, holds up nicely and remains arguably the best movie in which Hanks took a backseat to another lead.


ON THE LAST PAGE: Apollo 13, Captain Phillips, and Toy Story…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s